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"In the Society’s Strong Box": A Visual and Material History of the Royal Society’s Copley Medal, c.1736-1760

Higgitt, Rebekah F. (2019) "In the Society’s Strong Box": A Visual and Material History of the Royal Society’s Copley Medal, c.1736-1760. Nuncius: Journal of the Material and Visual History of Science, 34 (2). pp. 284-316. ISSN 0394-7394. (doi:10.1163/18253911-03402006) (Access to this publication is currently restricted. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided)

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It has become a commonplace that exceptional achievement, including within science, should

be rewarded with prizes and that these will often take the form of a medal. The ubiquity of

such awards today means that the circumstances behind their arrival tend to be overlooked,

but they were novelties when first suggested at the Royal Society in the 1730s. This article

traces the creation of the Copley Medal and explores the meaning of medals to the recipients,

the Society and the proposer of the scheme, Martin Folkes. Paying attention to the medal’s

iconography and material nature can shed light on how experimental philosophy and the role

of the Royal Society were conceived by key Fellows, demonstrating their links to

antiquarianism and Freemasonry. Rather than arriving as a fully formed reward system, the

medal concept required investment of time, money, thought and skill, and the development of

ritual, meaning and value.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1163/18253911-03402006
Uncontrolled keywords: Royal Society, medals, iconography
Divisions: Faculties > Humanities > School of History
Depositing User: Rebekah Higgitt
Date Deposited: 24 Apr 2019 12:45 UTC
Last Modified: 23 Jul 2019 10:19 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Higgitt, Rebekah F.:
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